The name game (when one of you is not like the other)

Brief aside: much like I struggled to become accustomed to using wedding-related terms (“our wedding,” “my fiance,” “our big day,” “his wife”), I get tongue-twisted when faced with baby-related terms, much to the chagrin of my mother.

“Please quit calling the baby – YOUR baby – a monster! It’s just not nice!”

“But I’m saying our little monster, Mom.”

I’m working on it in my head, I promise, and any day now I might be able to say, “my sweet baby boy” without blanching.


We’ve known what we’d be naming this kiddo since we found out he was a boy. My husband is a Jr., so it seemed natural – and easily agreed upon – that we’d name the baby after him. He’ll be a III.

We haven’t figured out what to call him, though. We could go with “James,” which will be his given name, but neither of us is really into that idea. We could roll with any of the various James-related nicknames a la Jim or Jimmy. We could call him Jay, which was my first preference and still a strong possibility.

But the names are all so… white!  (Ahem, caucasian.) Bear with me if I take a quick trip into semi-non-political-correctness….

My child’s formal name will give no indication that his mother is Hispanic.  I’m mostly at peace with that. Mostly. I’ve always wanted to name my kids in a way that would be pronounceable by Spanish speakers, even if my Spanish-speaking grandparents are no longer alive. (Try saying “Desiree” with a Spanish accent, I dare you. My poor abuelita – grandmother – never could get it right, so she just gave the little girl a nickname.) If he were a girl, we’d agreed on names with sentimental ties to my family; as a boy, we’d both long assumed he’d take my husband’s name.  Eventually this kiddo’s given name will cease to make me imagine him as an infant in a tweed coat with leather elbow patches. Right? Right?

Though my last name is pretty Caucasian now, my first name (Marisa) will always give some indication of my background.

So while I don’t want to call my son something totally unrelated to his given name, we’re strongly considering the possibility of nicknaming him after my brother and father (“Rudy”) despite being named after my husband and his father (“James”).  Another option? My husband can’t help but want to call him Leon (Spanish pronunciation with emphasis on the “o”), my grandfather’s name, but he’d inevitably be called LEEon and I’m not a fan.

Either way, the clear benefit would be some tie into my family, though the name isn’t particularly Hispanic. The downside? Poor kid would be called a name wholly unrelated to his real name. (“Rudy, your real name is James? What sense does that make?”)

My husband – who is named “James” but goes by “Joey” – assures me this is no big deal, but the inner judgmental me who long declared annoyance at people who misspelled their kid’s names “so they’re unique” (and really just saddled the poor kid with having to forever correct misspellings) is having a hard time.

Am I really considering assigning two names to my child that are unrelated? Yes, yes, I am.

Am I a bit uncomfortable at the whole idea? Yes, yes I am.

I think this might be more acceptable in the South where people are more likely to be called by their middle names than anywhere else I’ve been. It might also be more okay because of my husband’s name-nickname mismatch. Or maybe it just seems okay because I’m looking for a brilliant solution that makes everyone happy, myself included? I don’t know anymore.

So for now, we’ll stick to calling him “our little dude,” or “Kicky McKickerston.”

Ooh, or Indiana, so then we’d be naming our kid after our dog who was named after a character in a movie who was nicknamed after his dog! So meta, I love it.  Unfortunately, nobody else does, luckily for my son. Ha.


12 thoughts on “The name game (when one of you is not like the other)

  1. You just made me think of my grade school “boyfriend”:)
    His father used a nick-name mismatch (Jim) because his grandfather used the actual name (also James)…so when he came along they decided to call him Tres. I think he now has a son who is back to the original James.

    I live on the other side of the name game in that my husband is also a III, but for some crazy reason they decided to call him the exact same abbreviated version of their shared name. So now at family gatherings I’m always at a loss how to specify which one I want to refer to. For years I think they referred to them as old-name and little-name. I just can’t bring myself to call my father-in-law old-name…and I equally can’t call my husband little-name or even dr-name. I live in fear that if we ever decide to try for kids that we’ll have a son and he’ll want to call him the same abbreviated version of the name as well!

  2. and after calling my father-in-law once thinking I’d hit my husband’s name in my cell phone I now have them listed as HUSBAND Lastname and FIL Lastname

  3. I call my son the milk monster because sometimes when he’s hungry and I start to breastfeed him he makes funny grunty noises, shakes his head and tries to mash his gums on my breast! It’s quite funny.

    I like Jay as a nickname for James. You might not really know until he’s here either.

  4. We have a wonderful family friend who is “Zeke”. I was about twelve years old when I found out his given name is James. And this was in Ohio, not the South. I have no idea where Zeke came from, but that’s what everyone calls him.

    I guess my question is: does he HAVE to be a third? I have a couple of friends who are fourths, and at that point one feels completely obligated to name their kid “the fifth”, and though I do love the little kid I know who’s the fifth, I think that just sounds hifalutin’. These people aren’t passing down estates or something. But, obviously, that’s my personal issue. 🙂

    One compromise could be James with a Spanish middle name – still a shout out to the men before him, but not a “third”. A coworker of mine did that – they named her son Daniel Ignacio, which is lovely.

  5. I love it. When we have children, if we have a son, we’ll give him the second name of George, which is traditional in my partner’s family (well, they’d spell it Georg without the e, because they’re German).

    I have long wanted to name a son Lucas, but when you put the two together, and considering we’re really nerdy…

    Not gonna work.

  6. Ha. The name game is so hard 😉 9 months into and I still wonder if we picked the right names. At least now I’m used to Warren. The first couple weeks sometimes Warner slipped out!

    Yes I’m admitting I called my son the wrong name. Also admitting we stole the middle name from the dog to use as the middle name for our child 🙂 Sometimes I wish we called him Thile – which we didn’t because of the whole spelling/pronunciation issue he’d be sure to have for his entire life!

    I’m going to vote for Trey or Rudy. Who cares if his name isn’t at all related. My cousin is a jr and somehow they got Jere out of that – I often forget it’s not his given name. And really going by an alternate name can’t be that much harder than going by your middle name. Whenever someone has to look up my name I have to give them both because who knows what they have be down as.

    My hubby and I both go my our middle names – so when I’m in Eddie Bauer and they are trying to find our account I usually give them 4 names before they actually find us!

  7. I have a hard time referring to my uterus usurper as my “bundle of joy” or my “precious miracle” or anything else gag inducing. I tend to refer just to my reproduction system in general. For example “My uterus is so big I can’t button my pants” not “my baby is growing so I can’t button my pants”.

    I mostly refer to peabody (another side step name that I’m also not completely comfortable with), as the fetus, but that’s mostly to annoy my sister that likes to talk about the precious miracle of life that I’m creating (she’s never been pregnant but is confident I’m doing it wrong and she’ll never get morning sickness as I am over exaggerating) as if it’s a nice day at the spa, not 9 months of gross.

    In retaliation for me being pregnant wrong she has decided that as long as I refer to uterus or the fetus instead of my baby, she will call her niece or nephew fester. know, your choice will be better than fester.

    PS- my first name is my mother’s and her twin sister’s middle name, they got it from the nurse that helped my grandma during delivery (they were numbers nine and ten for gram). I have my middle name because my mom liked bewitched so it’s elizabeth after elizabeth montgomery and my sisters first name is Samantha after the actual character. really long response sorry.

  8. My dad’s name is James and growing up he was always called Jamie. Now he goes by Jim, but I think its a cute nickname for James.

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